Anna Karenina

Am I Well Read?

I am in the habit of writing brief book reviews for this blog.  (But you already know that.)  I don’t review every book I read, just the ones for which I think my review will be useful to my readers, or books that I think are important. I spent most of the summer reading Anna Karenina.  I would read one or two chapters per night as I went to bed.  The version I read was 870 pages, so you can see why it took all summer.  I don’t really know how to review a fiction book, plus the book is 132 years old.  My review would make no difference at this point.  But I thought I might explain what made me chose it to read.

Some time ago the note at the end of this post started floating around Facebook with the BBC 100 book list.  I had only read 18 of those 100 books, so I thought I’d expand my horizons and read some of them.   Also, Tolstoy is often quoted by Philip Yancey, one of my favorite authors.  The fact that it is an Oprah Book Club selection is a pretty big strike against it in my eyes, but it is a classic, so I had to just ignore the Oprah connection.

But the real clincher for my choice is very sophisticated.  It was available at my local used bookstore for $4.  (That is how I chose a substantial portion of the books I read.)

My thoughts on the book are these.  It is almost 900 pages with probably 25 regular characters.  Nearly every one of the 25 characters goes by 3 names.  For example one of the main characters goes by Levin, Kostya, and Konstantin Dmitrievitch.  This was very confusing for me at times.  Otherwise it is so incredibly massive that it is hard not to admire.  That’s really all you are getting for a review.

Here is the book list from Facebook:

1) Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read. 2) Add a '+' to the ones you LOVE. 3) Star (*) those you plan on reading. 4) Add a # if you've at least seen the movie 5) Tally your total at the bottom.

How many have you read?

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen 2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR x+# 3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte x 4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling # 5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee *# 6 The Bible x 7 Wuthering Heights 8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell x+ 9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullma 10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens x 11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott 12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy 13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller x 14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (Really? Has anyone done this?) 15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier 16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien x 17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks 18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger 19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger 20 Middlemarch - George Eliot 21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchel # 22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald x 23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens 24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy x 25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams # 26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh 27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky (I have read the Brothers Karamazov) 28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck 29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll 30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame 31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy x 32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens x 33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis x 34 Emma - Jane Austen 35 Persuasion - Jane Austen 36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis x# (This is on here twice) 37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini 38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres 39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden 40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne 41 Animal Farm - George Orwell x 42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown# 43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez 44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving 45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins 46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery 47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy 48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood 49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding x # 50 Atonement - Ian McEwan 51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel 52 Dune - Frank Herbert 53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons 54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen 55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth 56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon 57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens x 58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley x 59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon 60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez 61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck 62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov 63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt 64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold 65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas 66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac 67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy x 68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding 69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie 70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville 71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens 72 Dracula - Bram Stoker 73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett 74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson 75 Ulysses - James Joyce 76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath 77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome 78 Germinal - Emile Zola 79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray 80 Possession - AS Byatt 81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens x (# about 10 versions) 82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell 83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker 84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro 85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert 86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry 87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White x # 88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Why would this book be on this list?) 89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton 91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad x 92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery 93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks 94 Watership Down - Richard Adams 95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy 96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute 97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas # 98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare x 99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl # 100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo x+

Totals: Read it x - 23 Loved it + - 3 Plan to read * - 2 (I guess I'm pretty lame) Seen movie # - 12

This list in the Facebook note has been altered pretty substantially from the BBC list.  And Just in case you are wondering, I have only read 14 of the actual list.  (Though to be fair, Harry Potter takes up like 5 places on that list)  What would be your list of 10 fiction books everyone should read?